Ping Pong, St Christopher’s Place, London – Restaurant Review
By Roger Crow, September 2023
On any given Sunday my favourite lunch is either the roast something (chicken/beef/pork) with Yorkshire pud and all the trimmings, or katsu chicken with rice.
When I try the Dim Summer specials at Ping Pong (see what they did there?), no prizes for guessing what I opt for. It’s around 12.30pm, and the Lionesses are just about to lose to Spain in the World Cup, so my mood is far from bright, Millie or otherwise.
However, once Mrs C and I find the small but hugely likeable restaurant at St Christopher’s Place, there’s an apology from me for being 90 minutes early for our 2pm reservation, and we’re soon sat down in no time.
We’re too early to try their new afternoon tea deal, which consists of two tiers of PingPong favourites, as well as their delicious new ice cream bao. That’s priced at £20 per person and is served all week 2-4.30pm.
Thankfully for diners like Rachel and myself, there’s a meat and vegetarian option, and each includes a selection of three steamed, three fried dim sum and a selection of sweet treats. Basically a multi-layered, mouthwatering extravaganza.
Of course, the regular dishes are pretty good too. The waitress brings us a menu literally as long as my arm with a wealth of choices on one side and drinks on the other.
We meet Aron, the Swedish general manager, who aside from explaining the menu, also tells me the Swedes don’t start any word with two As. It’s little nuggets of trivia like that which season any dining experience, but also makes me wonder how you’d spell a very pleasant “Aaahhh,” in Sweden when I take my first mouthful of vegetable spring rolls with spicy mango sauce (£5.25).
On the Dim Summer specials menu, I opt for (unsurprisingly) four crispy chicken katsu bao (£22.95), which are beautifully prepared. There’s an array of cucumber slices (which get transferred to my culinary co-pilot’s plate because they are my edible Kryptonite), delicious pickles, and fresh coriander. Oh, and a jug of katsu sauce, which is liberally applied to each chicken portion.
The chicken is wonderfully tender; the crispy coating has a delightful crunch, and as a counterpoint, the bao buns are edible clouds of palate-friendly heaven. Together with steamed jasmine rice (£2.25), my mood has definitely lifted from the drama unfolding in Australia.
Rachel opts for a delicious vegetable bun (£6.55) and equally moreish crispy tofu with sweet chilli sauce (£4.55), which leads to the inevitable Sunday lunchtime statement of “I’ve eaten too much.” Thankfully on this weekend we’ve walked a good 15 miles around London, so the culinary reward is well worth it.
“Impeccable speed of service”
One aspect that stood out during my dining experience was the impeccable speed of service. The staff delivered each dish promptly without compromising on quality.
Value for money is obviously a key factor when it comes to dining out, and Ping Pong certainly delivers on that front. The Dim Summer specials are reasonably priced for the quality and creativity they offer. The portion sizes are generous, ensuring that you leave the eatery fully satisfied.
Yes, there are bigger branches of the Ping Pong chain, but if you just fancy a quick bite on your travels around the capital, then this is a welcome spot for resting those weary legs and recharging the batteries in a terrific part of the smoke.
Ping Pong, St. Christopher’s Place, 29a James Street, Marylebone, London W1U 1DZ
Monday – Wednesday 11.30am-10.30pm
020 7034 3100